Feeling Raw Because of Facebook, Part 1: The Wonder Years

09/28/2008 By Shawn Burns

I’m not going to write anything new for the next few days, I think. But since I posted a story the other day about what may have been my first crush I was reminded of some other stories that I posted on another blog that has been inactive for a while. If you’ve read these stories before, well, you’ve been reading this blog for a long time then and that makes you awesome. Also, don’t spoil them for everyone else :}

Like most adolescent boys I was a more than a bit girl-crazy when I was a kid. No, that’s too mild. I was obsessive, fascinated, and thrown completely off balance by girls. I was also always always always the new kid, and in each new place there was another girl to throw me for a loop.

One of my first crushes, and certainly my puppiest crush, was on a girl in grade school. She was a year older than I, but we were in a split grades 5-6 class. It was my first year in a new town, and she was pretty, and popular, and energetic, and the leader of the girl-pack at that school. I was in whatever passes for love in a 10 year old, and surprisingly enough she managed to not ignore me. In fact, through the various pairings-off that happened in that first romanticized pre-teen year she and I were a couple at least once. Who knows how long these relationships lasted? They felt like moments and years both.

But she was in the 6th grade, and our school only went to 6, so at the end of the year she moved on to a middle school, 7-8, and I stayed behind. Partly because of her attention, and partly because it was such a small school, I got over feeling like the "new kid" by the time 6th grade began. I remember thinking about her a lot during that year, though. And by 7th grade we were again at the same school. She seemed even more popular and pretty and social, but she was also long past going out with younger guys. That was a long year, and the occasional phone call from her (or to her) was only enough to keep me enthralled, but never enough to bring us really close again.

The next year she went to high school and I saw her maybe once in that time. A final teasing phone call and then we were done: I moved again.

We had lived in a small place in Eastern Ontario; I moved to a smaller to finish out 8th grade. Then I moved west and went to high school, graduating a year early and eventually going to the University of Toronto, a school with more students than our town had residents. And on my first day of university, sitting on a grassy knoll at an orientation bbq, I met her again. We lived 4 floors apart in our college residence, and we were in the same history class. Despite our proximity we didn’t see each other that often. I had gained a lot of confidence since those timid days in the 5th grade, and I had plenty to keep me occupied; and she had a full life of her own, and I only saw her sporadically. But here was this girl, this woman now, whom I had known as a child and who used to hold my heart in her unknowing hands. I admit it; she made me feel shy and awkward all over again. So I never really asked her out (I don’t think potatoes at Futures counts as any kind of date), and just before Christmas she left school and never came back.

12 years after we saw each other last, probably in that history class she would sleep through, we met again, on Facebook.

It feels a little bit, from my side, like Kevin Arnold meeting Winnie Cooper at the plane in the final episode of "The Wonder Years." And once again I feel awkward and shy: how did she ever find this guy interesting?

There is someone on Facebook who is not a member of my family whom I have known for 20 years. That’s a little bit humbling.